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Breaking Bad Review: "End Times"

by at . Comments

Following the suspenseful conclusions of the previous few episodes - culminating in what may have been the most tense five minutes in television history last week - my expectations were lowered for "End Times."

I felt a bit like a Yankees fan heading into the 1928 season. There was simply no way any cliffhanger could match what we witnessed on "Crawl Space," especially with the season finale a week ago and many shows using a penultimate episode such as this to quietly set the scene for the explosive action to come.

Yet, despite this mindset, I was still disappointed when the final credits rolled. Heck, I was even a bit confused.

Walter White, Defeated

Did Gus have a feeling that Walt (or someone) was out there, plotting his murder? Why would he? I understand that a man in his position must be careful at all times, but he's likely walked to a parked car before. Why did he suddenly decide to turn around?

I'll reserve full judgment until we find out where he's headed, but it comes across for now like Breaking Bad is simply dragging out the climactic killing of Gus until the finale. It feels sacrilegious to even hint that Vince Gilligan and company are spinning their wheels and needing to contrive a way to extend this storyline. I don't know of a showrunner I trust more.

And I'll happily devour my words next week if it all comes together, but this was actually the second time on "End Times" when Gus came across as too powerful and all-knowing.

He was really on to the ricin and somehow managed to poison Brock?!? I did what Walt pleaded with Jesse to do (in an incredible scene that ought to have cinched another Emmy for both these actors) and I thought long and hard about it and I still don't see how Gus pulled this one off. Yes, he has cameras inside the lab, and Tyrus is often parked outside Walt's home... but I still can't follow the logic of how he knew about the ricin, lifted it AND poisoned Brock with it.

Gus is a fascinating character - seriously, the show has crafted such a layered backstory for him that you find yourself sympathizing for the man, before being reminded at times such as this that he's a drug dealer and cold-blooded killer - but let's not make him into some kind of psychic comic book villain. It's a rarity, but Breaking Bad asked us to make some leaps in logic to keep things progressing this episode.

Of course, it also provided its typical handful of powerful, quiet character moments. There was Hank in sullen shock as he clicked through photos that supposedly disproved his theory. There was Skyler really needing a smoke and wondering how she and her family ended up here. There was Walt, just staring at his wife and daughter as they pulled out of the driveway, which followed a speech that officially did away with Heisenberg and brought Walt down to a level his ego probably never thought he'd be again.

This is his fault. There was a time when he could have done things differently, but it's too late now. And only he should suffer the consequences. It's impossible to argue with any of that, isn't it? Watching Walt return to basic chemistry in his kitchen - in order to build a bomb for a murder, granted - was also a nice call back to when Mr. White was nothing more than a science teacher.

Overall, not my favorite episode of Breaking Bad, as it mostly served to bring Walt and Jesse back together. But they are on the same side once again now, and I can truly say I have no idea what will result from that on the finale, the promo for which you can view HERE.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (84 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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I'm surprised non one has mentioned another prime suspect in Brock's poisoning. I'm guessing Jesse was the intended victim. HECTOR reached out to someone Gus overlooked and attempted to have Jesse poisoned after the "Crawl Space"episode where Gus emphatically told Hector Jesse killed his grandson and last living heir to the Salamanca Cartel, Joaquin. Remember how Hector glared at Jesse after Gus demanded Hector look at him. Hector also held Jesse and Walt responsible for Tuco's death.

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@nimrod1313 You're saying that Gale deserved to die less than Jane? That an educated chemist who is helping to supply hundreds (thousands?) of addicts with a very bad drug (see the episode "Peekaboo" for an unblinking look at some of Gale's customers) and making tons of money for very bad men is better than a poor weak girl drowning in her self-destructive addiction (and maybe taking her boyfriend with her)? Not following your logic, yo.

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Genius... Gomez... I love it! Thanks Hank :)

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I believe it was Walt who poisoned Brock as well. He needed Jessee's help to get rid of Gus. Also think about what Walt does when Jesse get's close to others, he sort of intervenes and get's Jesse back on his side. Examples include letting Jesse's old girlfriend choke, turning him against Guys, and also separating him from his new girlfriend. I think what Bryan said about the gun spinning towards the plant is quite interesting. There had to be a reason for it. Otherwise, why include it. Nice and subtle.

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"Bryan" spoils it. See below. Spoilers!

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A couple clarifications: Walt poisoned Brock as a last resort because he needed Jesse on his side to make a plot/get close enough to kill Gus. Walt's only way out is by killing Gus. My explanation also implies that Saul and Huell were in on it.

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I agree that Walt poisoned Brock. Walt got the idea to poison Brock from spinning the gun the 3rd time and it pointed to that plant. He probably then made a less harmful short-acting poison to make it look like Brock was poisoned with ricin. Walt did not poison Brock with ricin. Huell nabbed the ricin cig when he patted down Jesse just to make it go missing. Logistically, Walt had all day to figure out how to get brock some poison he concocted. It all makes sense. They will kill Gus in the finale, Brock will get better, and Jesse will somehow find out what Walt did. Voila.

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Also, what's all that purple at Hank's home and at the hospital where Brock was taken? Gus also seemed to have chosen his purple-ish shirt and tie set for meeting Jesse at the hospital's chapel. Walt took the walkie-talkie with wich he would detonate the pipebomb and kill Gus from a purple bag. After the failed bombing attempt, Walt's face is close to us, and we can see his purple shiner. Maybe the color schemes tells that Gus has an obvious and strong hand on what's coming to Hank and Brock. Walt worn a green shirt. Skyler too. Maybe I'm seeing to much.

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Huey picked Jesse's pack when he frisked him entering Saul's office. Walt is the villain, in his decaying form.

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My only issue with this review is that it assumes we, as the audience, are supposed to believe that Gus poisoned Brock. Walt and Jesse are paranoid, this is certainly one of Walt's major traits this season. For them to believe it makes sense because they have seen Gus manipulate and destroy things before. I think to read their paranoia as equivalent to the what actually happened in the diegesis of the show is misguided.

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